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NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers Interested in LaVine, DeRozan and Caruso

Mar 26, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) during the second half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Days after the reports of rivals anticipating the Chicago Bulls’ downfall, Shams Charania revealed that Zach LaVine is open to trades from the organization. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha has since noted that the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in acquiring LaVine, DeMar DeRozan or Alex Caruso:

The Lakers’ interest in LaVine is real — at the right price. However, LaVine’s potential availability also hints at the possibility of a fire sale in Chicago, with the organization seemingly looking to finally pivot away from its longstanding mediocrity. If additional Bulls players become available, the Lakers would also have interest in DeMar DeRozan and/or former Laker Alex Caruso, according to multiple team sources.

NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers Interested in LaVine, DeRozan and Caruso

Potential Fits on the Lakers

Zach LaVine

The Lakers have eyed LaVine for a while. Now, they have the chance to bring him home and join a winning organization. The UCLA alum is averaging 21.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3 assists on .407/.330/.871 splits. He’s a perimeter threat and improved defender who would greatly benefit LA’s system—not to mention his jaw-dropping athleticism. The fact that LaVine could seamlessly fit as a third scoring option is an added bonus for a team that tried—and notoriously failed—with a similar experiment for a year and a half.

However, according to Buha, a major concern for LaVine—aside from a recent injury history—is his contract:

In addition to his $40.1 million salary for 2023-24, he’s owed $138 million over the next three years (which includes a $49 million player option in 2026-27 he seems likely to exercise). Moreover, LaVine has a 15 percent trade kicker that he’d almost certainly have to waive to make a trade to the Lakers feasible financially.

Still, it’s clear the Lakers may be willing to try their hand at adding a third star again, and bringing in someone of LaVine’s caliber is a great starting point.

DeMar DeRozan

Another LA native, DeRozan would also fit well into a third-option role with the Lakers. The 34-year-old USC alum is averaging 21.2 points and 4.5 assists per game on 43% shooting from the field. DeRozan also had Lakers ties for the longest time—he thought he was going to LA before signing with Chicago.

Like LaVine, DeRozan’s scoring and playmaking would significantly enhance the purple and gold’s offense. He isn’t much of a three-point threat, but DeRozan has burned nets with his mid-range jumper. He made 47% of his attempts last season, and has shot 34% from there this year. Defensively, he’s averaging 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, maintaining his track record as a standout defender. One of DeRozan’s caveats is his contract. With an expiring salary of $28 million, the Lakers—and other teams—would have to consider re-signing him this summer, according to The Athletic.

Alex Caruso

As mentioned previously, the Lakers had interest in a reunion with Caruso after their free agency blunder in 2021. Now, given the other two names mentioned, it makes sense why LA wants to redeem themselves while being in the running for Chicago’s main stars.

Caruso would add tremendous depth to the rest of the Lakers’ guard slots, and his first stint proved that he fits perfectly next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, an area to keep in mind is what could happen with Austin Reaves, who’s been viewed—in some ways—as AC’s successor. Buha also wrote:

“The Lakers aren’t interested in including Reaves in a potential LaVine deal despite his recent move to the bench, according to multiple team sources.”

With Reaves seemingly taking on a sixth man role as of late, it’s conceivable that he could remain the top scoring option off the bench while Caruso orchestrates. They could also share the focus of the offense in staggered opportunities. Regardless, the possibility of having two dynamic guards off the bench is an exciting prospect for Lakers fans—even if it means another adjustment for Reaves.

Potential Assets in a Lakers-Bulls Trade

As great as these three may seem for the Lakers, the real challenge comes with what to give Chicago. The team has very limited assets as it is, with the majority of their roster coming back on new deals. Players such as D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent are not trade eligible until Dec. 15. Picks-wise, they’re even worse, only able to trade one or two first-rounders beginning in 2026.

The Lakers may not be able to compete with other offers, and the Bulls may not be inclined to wait until December for a trade. Still, LA shouldn’t be counted out completely. The Lakers could either move on from Russell, Hachimura and/or Vincent to revive their dreams of a successful “big three,” or trade Vincent and draft capital to reunite with Caruso.

The Last Word

The Lakers’ interest in LaVine, DeRozan and Caruso is both real and justified. However, a deal between the two won’t materialize until December. Still, all three of those players would do wonders for the Lakers while contributing to their championship pursuits. It’s up to Rob Pelinka and co. to stick it out with the current 6-6 squad or make a big move to increase their chances in a tough Western Conference.


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